As a Champion member of the British Film Institute (BFI), I get extra priority booking for all events. This usually means I am lucky enough to secure tickets for the hottest screenings, talks and previews. And the preview of Marvel’s Black Panther on Friday night was one hot ticket. It sold out in minutes after going on sale to members, never making it to public availability. The European premiere of the film had been held at the Hammersmith Apollo the night before, so Ryan Coogler was in attendance to introduce the film.
To date, I’ve read a couple of great pieces on the cultural significance of the film. I’d urge you to read them if you haven’t already. The first was written by Lupita Nyong’o’s father for a Kenyan publication. The second is from Jamil Smith for Time magazine. Both articles capture the significance of the film and what it means to see black representation in a Hollywood industry that is still almost exclusively the preserve of white people.
Now, for a review of the film itself. I could give you several paragraphs of my opinions and impressions after watching it, culminating in a rating or overview of sorts. But I can’t hold it in. I absolutely LOVED the film! Every minute was a delight, whether it was superbly timed comic dialogue or highly choreographed action. I can genuinely say there was not a single thing I disliked about Black Panther. The cast are magnificent, and I’d struggle to name the one I liked best, but Letitia Wright owned every scene she was in.
Black Panther is T’Challa of Wakanda, a rich and technologically advanced African nation. We are shown what countries of Africa could look like, had they not been subject to colonisation and exploitation of natural resources by the West. As always with superhero movies, T’Challa faces many challenges which he must overcome (hopefully without dying in the process). He is a strong, proud man, but there is no sense of a massive ego. He knows the privileges the Black Panther affords him, through being a worthy recipient of the Heart-shaped Herb.
The central strands to Black Panther focus on honour, loyalty, heritage and doing the right thing. There is a sense of family and sticking together no matter what. The women in the film are brilliant and strong enough to have their own story arcs. There is not a sense of competition between the female characters and the lead that I’ve felt with other superhero films. The women all have a key role to play, which advances the story and comes together beautifully in the finale.
I have to say something about the film’s humour, which is superbly timed and executed. I can’t give away any of the jokes, but even the facial expressions were fantastic. Sometimes you don’t even need a line of dialogue – a shady look will do the trick. I laughed as much as I did for Taika Waititi’s Thor:Ragnarok, which I’d felt was the funniest Marvel film to date.
Other notable points to mention – the cinematography, music and production design was also fantastic. I loved the contrast of the breathtaking African landscape (shot in South Africa) and the neon glow of an advanced technological society.
There wasn’t a single minute of this film I didn’t enjoy. Everything was a delight. And if you’re a Marvel fan, you know to stay to the end of the credits for the extra scenes. There are two for Black Panther, and the second one is hugely intriguing – I can’t wait to see what happens in Infinity War.
Please go and see this film as soon as you can. I can’t really do justice to the film in mere words, you have to see it. It is a joy.